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The bleakness of existence
Never Let Me Go (DVD)
Member Name: pmcds
Never Let Me Go (DVD)
Advantages: Acting and direction, pace and bleak looks
Disadvantages: A somewhat depressing film for the most part
Kazuo Ishiguro's written works are well praised, and this one is no exception. The issue I sometimes have is when such films are transferred onto the big screen, as they're often manipulated and adapted to fit the circumstances and surroundings. I haven't yet read the book, although it is on the shelf and ready for me to do so, but I thought I would watch the film nonetheless. I did the same with The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, watching the film first, and it no negative impact on me when reading the book, other than my knowledge of the contents and basic plotline.
Here though, Mark Romanek gives us a gentle and character driven film that focuses on the lives of three individuals, at boarding schools together and then entering adulthood together as well. These three friends (Kathy, Tommy and Ruth) are portrayed as outcasts, shunned by their peers yet for no apparent reason. I loved the bleak portrayal of life at school, dull shades and miserable weather used to good measuer, technology and fun kept out of the visuals almost entirely, to show us that their lives were dire and they had to turn to each other for support.
Then, as they grow older and their lives forge down different paths, it becomes more about their interaction with each other, and the tensions that are shown in this respect. Romanek gives it to us hard and straight, no mucking about with caring for our feelings, wanting instead to provide a completely miserable outlook but giving the characters licence to be pleasant and thankful for what they have.
You see, their existence isn't standard like you or I would understand. There is a particular purpose to their lives, and one which you'd have to read or watch to find out, I certainly shan't tell you. It impacts significantly on how we see things, and should really impact on how we perceive life in general. It certainly made me think about life expectancy and how science progresses to better our chances, etc. ; it also relies heavily on the acting skills of the three leads to carry us gently through such bleakness and to keep our interest and motivation to watch maintained.
The acting skills of Keira Knightley are a bit love/hate when it comes to most people. She has that annoying look in most of her roles, but here she manages to portray a beautiful woman who is torn inside, desperately unhappy and reacting by taking what she wants. Knightley plays Ruth excellently, I have to say. Andrew Garfield as Tommy is in such contrast to his recent role as Spiderman, clearly the most disturbed and introverted character, going along with most things and in desperate need of others to help him through life. But the most powerful role is Carey Mulligan as Kathy. Such a forlorn look but such a strong character, strong in the face of everything that happens to her, and portrayed so brilliantly by Mulligan that it's no wonder that she has been on the Oscar radar for a while already even though she's a relatively young actress.
These three are so strong and effective in their roles that the bleak tale doesn't put you off. There's a certain amount of suspense and mystery surrounding what the point of their existence is all about and who they really are, and it's not until right before the end that we find out for sure with some definitive answers, but the film does answer all of the questions it poses, and does so very effectively. Beautiful use of bland and bleak, expert acting and just the right slow pace, Never Let Me Go is a film that will not inspire you or get you motivated or excited, but it is a powerful and emotional drama that's well worth a watch. Strong stuff.
Summary: Effective drama about three people who want to find their purpose in life